Criminals on Town Council O.K. with Burton. Not with Me.
When a politician is elected to office, they assume a public trust with the people – to fairly and honestly represent them in the task of overseeing the workings of government. This concept may no longer be the case south of our borders, but I still believe it is a foundation of our Canadian democracy.
If a politician is criminally arrested the public trust they have with the people is compromised and they should take a leave of absence to clear their name before stepping back to their office to represent the electorate.
If a politician pleads, or is found criminally guilty, they have shattered the public’s trust in that politician and their ability to make decisions on the public’s collective behalf.
A matter of ethics and judgement:
A Councillor was charged with a serious criminal offence. The Mayor knew about it. Neither informed Council. In July 2017, the Councillor plead guilty. In August 2017, at the sentencing hearing, the Mayor’s support of the Councillor was referred to by the Councillor’s lawyer to mitigate sentencing. All of this is a matter of public record. The Mayor had written a letter in April 2017 supporting the Councillor on the letter head of the Mayor of the Town of Oakville. The Councillor continued to sit on Council. In March 2018 the victim of the crime notified Councillors who investigated the situation. The offending Councillor then resigned.
At a Ward 3 debate on October 10, a question came from the floor asking Mayor Burton to explain his actions in regards to this matter.
What is wrong with this?
- Council was not informed until almost one year after the conviction and seven months after the sentencing; and only then by the victim. The Mayor withheld this information from the Council and the public.
- The Mayor wrote a letter of support for the Councillor on Office of the Mayor of Oakville letter head, contrary to the Town’s Code of Conduct.
- The letter influenced the sentencing of the Councillor.
- In a similar situation involving former Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto writing on behalf of a friend, the Attorney-General of Ontario stated that such a letter on City letterhead is inappropriate.
- No action was taken by the Councillor or Mayor to protect others who might be affected by the Councillor’s actions.
- Was any support offered to the victim?
“Should [Name of offender] be exposed to any elements that would disqualify him from running again in the 2018 local municipal election that would be a great loss to the residents of Oakville and especially myself..”Mayor Rob Burton
“avoid the improper use of the influence of their office by not interfering with legal or quasi-judicial processes, administrative tribunals or committees either involving the town or on behalf of constituents;”Oakville Code of Conduct
Oakville’s Code of Conduct Needs a Significant Upgrade
This is a sad chapter in our Town’s governance and seriously diminishes the integrity of Town Council and exposes the inadequacies of Oakville’s current Code of Conduct and Council’s ability to enforce it.
Oakville Doesn’t Want Criminals Serving on Council
It is a breach of the public trust for sitting Councilors charged with a criminal offense to continue in a position of trust as an elected official. As Mayor, I will work with Council to update the Town’s Code of Conduct to require that any councilor charged with a criminal offence must immediately take a leave of absence, and any councilor who pleads guilty or is convicted must resign their seat.